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83-Steelers-43
11-30-2006, 01:04 PM
NFL asks mexicans if they're ready for football
Thursday, November 30, 2006

By John Lyons, The Wall Street Journal


MEXICO CITY -- Miguel Gutierrez -- wearing a Brett Favre jersey and nursing a giant soda and popcorn -- nestles into his seat to root for the Green Bay quarterback, his football hero.

As the Packers kick off to the Seahawks Monday night, the crowd inside the stadium in snowy Seattle is raucous. And so is the one in the warm, dry movie theater here where Mr. Gutierrez has come to watch the game.

"It's loud, it's big. It's seems like we might be there," says the 37-year-old who fell in love with the game as a child and regularly attends the Monday night telecasts.

The National Football League is making an aggressive marketing push to make soccer-mad Mexico a football haven, too. In Mexico City, the NFL has teamed with the Cinemex theater chains to show Monday night games live on big screens. The league sponsors youth flag-football tournaments to win young fans. By the time the Super Bowl rolls around, Mexicans will be drinking from beer cans emblazoned with team logos, and finding NFL team stickers in loaves of bread and bags of potato chips.

The NFL's efforts in Mexico have become a cornerstone in the league's strategy to win additional overseas fans, from Germany to China. Millions of Mexicans have spent some time in the U.S., making Mexico a natural expansion market. Last year, the NFL chose Mexico City's giant Azteca soccer stadium for the first of its regular-season games ever to be played outside the U.S. More than 103,000 people -- including Mr. Gutierrez showed up to see the Arizona Cardinals defeat the San Francisco 49ers -- breaking the regular-season attendance record for a single game.

The success of that game has prompted the NFL to schedule up to two regular-season games a year in foreign countries beginning next season. Under consideration for 2007 are Mexico City, Toronto, London, Frankfurt and Cologne, Germany.

The plan represents a big investment -- and risk -- for NFL team owners who forgo a home game, and all ticket sales that go with it, to send their players abroad. Owners are betting that the overseas games will produce more fans, who will buy team-licensed clothing and mementos. The NFL believes it can grab a bigger share of the $43 billion international sports market, where the football league is a relatively small player today.

Overseas marketing isn't new for the NFL: The league has played overseas exhibition games since 1986, and NFL Europa, a league of lesser pros that plays in the spring, has teams in five German cities and Amsterdam. But the league now believes its best marketing tool is exporting regular-season NFL games, with all the excitement of having the stars on the field and playing for keeps. The buzz created by these games should lead to increased merchandise sales and television viewers -- two sources of revenue that have long since outstripped ticket sales in financial importance.

Against that backdrop, it may be smarter to bring one regular-season NFL game to a foreign capital, than to set up a small expansion league with a less intense level of play. The NFL is setting its sights on emerging markets: Next year, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots will play a preseason game in Beijing. The league is considering a foreign franchise in the next 10 years with Mexico City a strong contender because of its proximity to the U.S.

"We're convinced we have the best game," says Mark Waller, a former executive with Diageo PLC, maker of Johnnie Walker whiskey and other beverages, who was hired this year to head an overseas push. "If we can be successful in the U.S., the world's most competitive market, there's no reason why we can't compete elsewhere."

Building a fan base can take generations, so the NFL has started sponsoring youth flag-football leagues around Mexico, Europe, and lately even in China and Thailand, to get kids excited about football from an early age.

With football's popularity growing in Mexico, Grupo Modelo, the maker of Corona beer and a longtime NFL corporate sponsor in Mexico, is gearing up to sell some 300 million cans of Modelo Especial beer cans that are decorated with the team colors of the winners of the past 10 Super Bowls. Mexico's biggest bread maker Grupo Bimbo is also readying a Super Bowl season promotion involving collectible team stickers.

U.S.-style football reaches deeply into Mexican history. In 1896, a young Mexican student who had studied in the U.S. challenged a group of American sailors anchored at Veracruz to a football game, according to a perhaps apocryphal story in Alejandro Morales's "100 years of American Football in Mexico." There was also a Mexican version of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen backfield of the 1920s: The Cuatro Burros Galopantes -- or Four Galloping Donkeys -- dominated the backfield at Mexico City's National Polytechnic Institute in the 1940s. But the game didn't catch on like soccer.

NFL football became a pastime for rich Mexicans who studied in the U.S. or who zipped to second homes in Texas, where they would usually root for the Dallas Cowboys. To some extent, the NFL and Mexican marketers are now trying to use the snob appeal to their advantage. Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia is issuing credit cards in Mexico City with NFL team logos that it figures will be popular with aspiring middle-class Mexicans.

"It works because we are targeting the same segment that the NFL reaches, the middle and upper middle classes," says Javier Ortiz, director of marketing at the bank's Mexican unit.

But the appeal of American football is expanding widely. NFL fashions are worn these days even in the dustiest of desert villages. That's because the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who head north to work in U.S. restaurants, fields and factories often return for the holidays decked out in NFL caps and winter coats purchased in the U.S.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06334/742474-66.stm

sumo
11-30-2006, 01:31 PM
Why doesn't the NFL do the same here? - I wouldn't mind getting all my friends together and going to a Cinemax theatre on a Monday night - I think that would be pretty cool..

stlrtruck
11-30-2006, 01:34 PM
Why doesn't the NFL do the same here? - I wouldn't mind getting all my friends together and going to a Cinemax theatre on a Monday night - I think that would be pretty cool..
Why would they do that, they've already got most of America plastered to the TV anyway!

sumo
11-30-2006, 02:30 PM
Why would they do that, they've already got most of America plastered to the TV anyway!

I just think it would be cool to watch football on the huge screen...instead of popcorn and milk duds at the concession stand - get some hot wings going, various adult beverages, etc

83-Steelers-43
11-30-2006, 05:51 PM
Not until they release Dog the Bounty Hunter......

Eitherway, I'm against the NFL expanding to Mexico or Europe. If you want to see the Steelers, buy a plane ticket and have a blast.

tony hipchest
11-30-2006, 06:07 PM
Not until they release Dog the Bounty Hunter......

Eitherway, I'm against the NFL expanding to Mexico or Europe. If you want to see the Steelers, buy a plane ticket and have a blast. i would be pissed if i were a ticketholder and had 1 of 8 games ripped away.

83-Steelers-43
11-30-2006, 06:38 PM
i would be pissed if i were a ticketholder and had 1 of 8 games ripped away.

That's pretty much where I stand. The NFL season is short to begin with compared to other sports. I will not be a happy camper if they (the NFL and Steelers) decide to play a home game in Mexico. Like I said, if you want to see the Steelers either A) Travel here and watch a game or B) Catch them in a city closer to your location. Why screw us over?

Black@Gold Forever32
11-30-2006, 07:20 PM
Most the world could care less about the NFL. The NFL is America's game. So to me I'm against this idea of playing regular season games in other countries.

jaysta
11-30-2006, 08:12 PM
That's pretty much where I stand. The NFL season is short to begin with compared to other sports. I will not be a happy camper if they (the NFL and Steelers) decide to play a home game in Mexico. Like I said, if you want to see the Steelers either A) Travel here and watch a game or B) Catch them in a city closer to your location. Why screw us over?

...or if they really wanted to make everyone happy, add one more game to the schedule and have two teams play their game in another country that week. That gives us one more week of football...just a thought.

83-Steelers-43
11-30-2006, 08:50 PM
...or if they really wanted to make everyone happy, add one more game to the schedule and have two teams play their game in another country that week. That gives us one more week of football...just a thought.

Or they could do that. Personally, I don't care what they do as long as they don't screw over those of us who pay the teams salary, pack that stadium week in and week out and who have been faithful through thick and thin.

83-Steelers-43
12-01-2006, 05:14 PM
My bad, please delete and 16 lashings.

Preacher
12-01-2006, 06:33 PM
Yep.. Make the preseason 3 games, take the fourth game and make it a regular season game. And if the NFL goes anywhere, I want it to go to Europe. I would LOVE to see football played outdoors in a European winter. THAT IS REAL FOOTBALL.

tony hipchest
12-01-2006, 07:37 PM
Yep.. Make the preseason 3 games, take the fourth game and make it a regular season game. And if the NFL goes anywhere, I want it to go to Europe. I would LOVE to see football played outdoors in a European winter. THAT IS REAL FOOTBALL.from what ive seen, the mexican people are the most educated and passionate about american football and mexico city deserves a game much more than say, london.

Newzfoxjr
12-01-2006, 07:45 PM
I say only have 2 preseason games and make the season 2 games longer, but maybe I'm just being greedy. =D

Eh...the NFL is for the USA. I say it stays here.